A Virginia man who was arrested in Philadelphia in 2020 while presidential election ballots were being counted was a “central” conspirator of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s Office alleged Monday.
Joshua Macias, who was charged with carrying an illegal firearm and interfering with an election, has been out on bail since late 2020. Days after his release, on the evening of Jan. 5, 2021, he met with insurrection planners in an underground parking garage, prosecutors said. A documentary video purports to show Macias speaking with leaders of the right-wing organizations Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.
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The district attorney’s office has filed a motion to have Macias found in contempt of court for violating his bail.
“We thought they were medium-sized fish,” Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said of Macias and the man arrested alongside him, Virginia resident Antonio LaMotta. “We thought they weren’t sharks,” Krasner said during a news conference shown on Facebook.
“I say he is a shark,” said Krasner, referring to Macias. “He has proven how dangerous he can be.”
Macias, 43, and LaMotta, 63, both of Chesapeake, were arrested in November 2020 outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where officials were counting mail-in ballots for the presidential election between Democrat Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, the GOP nominee. Macias and LaMotta carried handguns on their bodies, and police said they found an assault-style rifle and 160 rounds of ammunition in their Hummer. Their weapons weren’t registered in Pennsylvania.
Prosecutors say they were there to disrupt the counting of the election. Lisa Deely, chair of the Philadelphia City Commissioners, said Monday that she believed a mass shooting was avoided when the pair were arrested.
Macias and LaMotta were known to attend right-wing rallies, including events in Richmond. Macias co-founded an organization called Vets for Trump.
The two men were charged with illegal possession of firearms, interfering with an election and hindering performance of duty and conspiracy. A trial is scheduled for October.
Macias was released on $850,000 bail. The day before the insurrection, he met in an underground parking garage with Enrique Tarrio, head of the Proud Boys, and Stewart Rhodes, organizer for the Oath Keepers.
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Tarrio and Rhodes have been charged with seditious conspiracy. The Proud Boys, Tarrio’s organization, were the “tip of the spear,” leading marchers inside and smashing a window to enter the Capitol, Krasner said.
During the meeting, they planned the events of Jan. 6, said Brian Collins, an assistant district attorney. It’s unclear when and why the video of the conversation was released. The speakers signaled to the camera operator to step away so their conversation couldn’t be heard, Krasner said.
The next day, Macias stayed outside the Capitol, and on video he called then-Vice President Mike Pence “Benedict Arnold,” Krasner said. LaMotta entered the Capitol.
A lawyer for Macias did not respond to a request for comment.